Proud to be Costa Rican – Orgulloso a Ser Costarricense
If you are traveling through Costa Rica in August and September, you could be forgiven for thinking that there are primitive tribes preparing for battle, as there is the almost constant sound of drums in the distance. What you can hear is the anxious preparation of every school band in the country, as they ready themselves for the Independence Day celebrations of the 15th of September. You can join in the celebrations with the crowds that line the streets to see the drummers pass with majorettes, dancers and students in national dress. Listen out for the jaunty-sounding ‘Hymn of the 15th of September’ which is the song sung to commemorate this special day in the Costa Rican calendar. It is such a special day, that September is considered to be the ‘Month of the Motherland’ and you will see decorations in the national colors of red, white and blue everywhere during this month! Don’t forget to lather on the suntan lotion and take your bottle of water – the 15th always seems to be hot!
You can expect to see traditional dancing, where couples in typical dress flirt and dance together in set steps and patterns. Women wear long, wide skirts in strips of color, which are used throughout the dancing. Men dress simply in a peasant style of jeans, white shirt, hat and a colorful handkerchief around the neck, which is removed and used in dancing. Great photo opportunities here!
Costa Rica was granted independence from Spain in 1821, when the whole of Central America became free from colonialism, following political shifts in Europe. Costa Rica was an insignificant part of the Spanish empire and it took weeks for the population to even know that they had been given their liberty! However, the Ticos are proud and patriotic and celebrate the day that their country became theirs with passion!
The night of the 14th is another celebration which is enjoyable. School children march through their town, accompanied by family and townspeople, carrying home-crafted lanterns, called faroles. Walking with children carrying paper lanterns lit by candles may seem risky, but no one ever seems to get hurt, even if a few lanterns have to be thrown to the roadside as they ignite! The lanterns are fashioned in traditional Costa Rican symbols and colors, such as ox carts. The overall effect is charming and an authentic show of Tico culture! The marching is accompanied by bands and the singing of patriotic songs. The parades usually begin just after nightfall – ask around where you are staying to find where the marching starts. For a few hundred colones, you can even buy your own farol and march along too! Supposedly, the lanterns’ significance was to light the way for the messenger bringing the notification of independence to the country.
Wherever you are in the country on the 15th; you can be sure to be swept away on a tide of Tico pride!